Sunday, January 30, 2011

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. ~ Eden Philpotts

Before being hired for the position I've had the past six months, I spent two and a half years working as a cook. Although I love to cook and bake, the job was not my dream job, and although I knew I was still working toward my goals and doing the best I could, there were days it was all just maddeningly frustrating. Since it takes awhile to realize a pattern is, in fact, a pattern, I don't remember when I first started noticing this, but at some point, I began seeing hearts at work: Heart-shaped soap splashes by the kitchen sink's, one heart-shaped potato chip on the edge of the deep fryer while the rest of the chips had made it into the fry-baskets, a heart-shaped spill of maraschino cherry juice. My supervisor would call out from the walk-in freezer that a container of gravy had been knocked off of the shelf and would I please clean it up, and I would be greeted by a heart-shaped gravy spill before me. I would bend down to pull a red onion from their box and find instead a heart-shaped piece of Romaine lettuce on the floor in front of me. The other cook would bump his hand into my cup and my iced tea would slosh onto the table in a heart-shaped puddle. The daily sweeping and mopping of the restaurant would almost always find me reaching for my cell phone to take a quick picture of the heart-crumb or stain that was suddenly stubbornly stuck to the floor. If one of the hundreds of red potatoes was heart-shaped, it would be I and not the other cook on my shift who would blindly grab it from the bin. 

These moments sound like stretches of the imagination, but they happened so frequently, and only at work, and even then, only when I wasn't expecting them. If I looked down at the counter in deliberate search for anything heart-shaped before beginning to make a waffle for someone, I wouldn't see a thing, but two minutes later when the waffle iron would beep, I'd start to scrape the baked-on batter from around the iron's edges only to find that some had already baked into a perfect heart. I'm sure I was Cliff Claven-ish enough to show my coworkers the heart-shaped potato and chip, but I didn't tell anyone at work just how often this happened to me.



 

I began to believe at some point that all these hearts were not "just" hearts. Granted, they were not visions of saints in toast, but as crazy as it may sound to others--and as it did to Mike when I'd mention over supper that day's latest heart-discoveries--the hearts began to feel like signs to me. All those days working in a restaurant kitchen when I ached to be somewhere else doing something else, just when I thought I'd flip out and scream, I'd be "tagged" again and a heart-shaped bacon-piece would be left over on a guest's plate like a calling card from the universe and bring me some small comfort. It is silly and a bit sad, really, the things that help get us through the hard times, but whatever works, I say. Maybe the hearts were signs and maybe they weren't, but eventually I decided that every time I found one from then on, I'd take a deep breath, thank God that I had a job at all, and recommit to the goals of hanging in there and being patient while working toward something else.
 
What ended up being two and a half years passed, as time always does, and last May, the phone call requesting an interview for my current position finally came. Call me crazy, and point out that I reaaaaaaaally could have used some time off, but I take my magic where I can find it and am grateful for it when I do. I haven't noticed any hearts--edible, spilled, or otherwise--in ages. I found them when I needed them, and I am thankful.


9 comments:

FlowerLady said...

This is so cute and sweet. I am another soul who sees hearts like you and photographs them when I can. DH has even found some heart shapes himself.

Keep finding hearts and magic in every day. Be well, be happy.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Kathryn said...

I *see* things too and I loved this post! I've never photographed them though, but I'm inspired to do that now, thanks!

Val said...

Thank *you*, FlowerLady and Kathryn. :) 'Glad I'm not alone in this. :)

Lisa said...

Wow, Val!! Of course they were "signs" - what a lovely post! While i was reading it, I was wishing you had pictures of the stuff, and further down, there they were! A wonderful story. And the part about your being thankful for the job you had - that's the best part. I've been reading about the importance of gratitude in Ann Voskamp's book, "One Thousand Gifts".

Val said...

Hi, Lisa. :) I'm glad you "get it." Yes, signs, indeed, I think. And I wish I could have taken hundreds more pictures, but I wasn't supposed to take pictures while on-the-job in the first place, so I had to sneak what I could. ;) I'll look into that book. I think gratitude is one of the most important things in life.

Paula said...

Dear sweet Val, What an incredible story! I am so glad you shared this!!! I do believe those hearts were signs from God bringing you comfort during a difficult time! How wonderful to find the happy images after you got your new job! Such a sweet and meaningful time in your life and you wrote about it beautifully! I enjoyed the photos too! I love what you said above, "I think gratitude is one of the most important things in life." I totally agree!!! By the way, the other night I found a heart shaped potato! Love to you, Paula

Val said...

Hi, Paula. :) Another heart-shaped potato, how neat! Are you saving it for Valentine's Day? ;) Thank you for your kind words. Love back to you. :)

And Lisa, I requested that book from the library yesterday. Thank you for the rec. :)

Valerie said...

Hehehe, I love your post on signs. :) It's Carl Jung's Synchronicity! :)

Val said...

YES! Exactly, Valerie. :)